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Aperios

Aperios

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Aperios

Länge:
387 Seiten
5 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jun 19, 2018
ISBN:
9781680466324
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Zach Morris was just an ordinary man, living an ordinary life in the suburbs of Chicago...except for the fact that he could see monsters.

They don’t come to him in dreams or nightmares. They work in his office, they take tolls on the turnpike, they live next door. They are Mythiks. They’ve always been among us; elves, dwarves, hobbits and all the rest of the creatures from the fantasy novels and movies we thought were nothing more than the creations of our imaginations, but they’re as real as we are. Most of us can't see them, but there are some humans, known as the Aperios, who can pierce the Mythik's outer façade, and see them for what they really are. But being an Aperios is perilous, torn between humans who want to ferret out those living among us and the Mythiks who want to remain hidden. Zach Morris had a secret but now he’s running for his life as the world of the Mythiks collides with our own and the future of the human race hangs in the balance.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Jun 19, 2018
ISBN:
9781680466324
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

B.D. Messick was born in Baltimore, years and years ago. He has held a lot of jobs in his lifetime, including retail professional, board game designer, and even farm hand (best job ever).He currently resides somewhere in the Pittsburgh area where he spends his time writing as much as possible while cleaning up after FAR too many cats.


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Chapter One

The conference should only last a few days, so we’ll be back on Sunday night, my mom said as we walked out onto the tiny front porch of our house.

I know, you already told me.

You sure you’re going to be okay by yourself?

"Mom, I am in college, you know."

Lisa, he’ll be fine. Stop treating him like he’s ten, my father said from the back of the car where he was loading their bags into the trunk.

I’m sorry, I just worry about you, that’s all, she said with a warm smile.

I know, I replied as she hugged me.

She stepped back and smiled at me again, the sunlight reflecting off her dazzling blue eyes.

No parties, okay?

No parties, I know.

I looked over at my dad, and he mouthed the words ‘little party’ and nodded his head. I gave him a thumbs-up behind mom’s back.

I might invite Chloe over, is that okay? I asked.

That’s fine. Just be a gentleman.

Mom!

Sorry, it had to be said.

She winked at me.

Come on Lisa, we gotta get on the road.

Hold your horses, Tom. Love you, Zach, she said as she settled into the passenger seat.

Love you too, Mom.

See ya, buddy, my dad said with a wave. Behave yourself.

And no little parties, either, my mom lectured as dad backed out of the driveway.

As the car slowed to a stop, he looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. I shook my head and laughed.

Suddenly, a black semi-trailer with mirrored windows appeared out of nowhere, and smashed into my parent’s car, completely obliterating the vehicle.

I woke up, screaming.

Drenched in sweat, my heart raced as my mind tried to figure out where I was. I felt a hand touch my arm and I jumped.

Honey, it’s me, my girlfriend Chloe said quietly. Another one?

Yeah, I replied, inhaling a deep breath to slow my heart-rate.

She sat up, resting her chin on my shoulder.

They’re happening a lot lately.

I nodded with a sigh.

I know, I replied, trying not to sound too worried about it. I think I’m gonna go downstairs for a bit.

You want me to come?

No, go back to sleep. I won’t be long, I said before leaning over and kissing her on the cheek.

She laid back down, and within a few seconds was fast asleep again. I watched her for a moment before climbing out of bed as carefully and quietly as I could manage. As I descended the stairs to the living room, I passed by the vast collection of family photographs from happier times.

It had been ten years since my parents died, and still, the wound felt as fresh as the day it happened.

I made my way to the couch, sitting down slowly as I tried to banish the last fragments of the nightmare from my mind. If you looked at my life from the outside, you might think I had everything going for me; at twenty-six, I owned my own house, I had a beautiful live-in girlfriend, a great job and everything else anyone would want. If it weren’t for the orphan thing, the nightmares, and the fact that I saw monsters everywhere I went, things would have been great.

Wake up, honey, I heard Chloe say, or maybe it was just a dream.

I forced my eyes open. She was standing over me, dressed for work, her briefcase in her hand.

Oh God, did I fall asleep down here? I asked, looking around at the living room.

She smiled at me and nodded, gently stroking my cheek.

Yeah.

Crap! What time is it? I’m gonna be late, I mumbled, as I started to stand.

Chloe shook her head and pushed me back down.

I called you off.

Thanks, baby.

I brushed my fingers across the back of her hand. She leaned down and kissed me on the forehead.

Get some sleep, honey, she said, with that lovely lilt in her voice.

Love you.

Love you, more, she replied, and a few moments later, she was out the door.

Monsters.

That’s what I saw, every day, all day.

Well, that’s not completely accurate, and a little insulting actually. To be more precise, we called them Mythiks, although they seldom referred to themselves with the term. I think we used it out of ignorance, for lack of a better word, or maybe just because we knew they didn’t’ like it.

So, what’s a Mythik? It’s hard to say, exactly. To most people, they looked like humans, but there was a small group of individuals, like myself, who could see them for what they truly were; Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, even Centaurs and Dragons. They ran the gamut from A to Z of every mythological creature from literature and legend.

Logical minds would say that if they had wanted to take over, they could have done so centuries ago when we were still trudging through the dark ages, or at pretty much any other time before or since, but they haven’t, preferring to stay in the background and blend in rather than control. Unfortunately, the human mind is easily swayed by talk of fear and hate and people may do things they might not have otherwise done. Hitler, Jim Jones, the KKK; history is littered with the bodies of the innocent.

And then, everything changed on January 22nd last year, and not all for the better. That day, a large crowd had gathered in Washington, DC over the course of seventy-two hours. The news had reported that they were there to protest the upcoming State of the Union address by the President, but that wasn’t the case at all.

At exactly noon, a quiet hush spread through the crowd, and then this gathering of men, women, and children transformed into a collection of creatures of all types; beings from Mythology, literature and in some cases, from Xenobiology. There were centaurs, fairies drifting through the air, even huge dragons floating above the pond outside the Washington Monument. There were trolls, hobbits, dwarves, satyrs, elves, and many others that were harder to identify. Why they’d decided to reveal themselves was unknown; maybe they were tired of hiding or maybe they just wanted to be themselves, but whatever the reason, their sudden transformation resulted in worldwide panic.

Similar crowds had gathered outside the main government offices in close to seventy countries, revealing themselves at exactly the same time, and it terrified people. I mean, they’d been living among us for centuries, apparently in peaceful coexistence, but when they showed themselves, a lot of people couldn’t handle it. Many called for their immediate quarantine, as if they carried some disease that a human might catch and transform into one of them. Others said they should be hunted down, rounded up and placed on reservations or worse. Only a few said they should be allowed to live among us as they had been for thousands of years, but their voices were too few and too quiet.

And then something else happened, something that changed everything for me. People started coming forward saying that they could always see these Mythiks, as everyone had begun calling them, for what they truly were. They could see through their human façade and had been able to do so their entire lives. I started to feel a little better about what had been happening to me since I was a child. I didn’t feel so alone and isolated, but that feeling was short-lived. It wasn’t long after that, that the black cars began showing up in neighborhoods all across the country.

Chapter Two

December 11

"Mythiks continue to show up in large numbers to demand equal rights and full recognition by the governments of the world. Protesters clashed with the Mythik crowds.  One Mythik woman was killed and the President released a statement that there were good people on both sides.  His comments have sparked a firestorm of criticism."

They always wore the same thing; black suits, white shirts and black ties, driving black Government Issue cars and sporting dark sunglasses so that you couldn’t see their eyes. It was almost comical the way they always walked in tandem. I spotted them coming up the path and I opened the door before they even had a chance to knock. Only the screen door stood between me and them, as if the flimsy metal mesh would have deterred them for even a moment.

Can I help you? I asked.

Are you Mr. Morris, Mr. Zach Morris? the taller one asked while his partner looked up and down the sidewalk.

And you are?

Sir, are you Zach Morris? he asked again, his voice steady and emotionless, my reflection in their sunglasses looking back at me. There was an odd moment where I imagined that their eyes would be the same dead black as the plastic lenses they wore.

It seemed weird that they were even asking me. They obviously knew who I was, where I lived, and probably everything else about me, including many things I probably preferred they didn’t know.

Yes, I answered, somewhat warily.

The shorter one looked left and then right, and then he spoke for the first time.

Can we talk inside, sir? he asked.

I’m kinda busy, actually, I replied, although I hadn’t done anything all day, other than sleep.

It won’t take long, sir.

I sighed. The last thing I wanted was to have them inside my house.

Can I see some ID first? I asked.

At the same exact moment, they both pulled out their wallets and showed me their badges by pressing them up against the screen, bowing the thin metal mesh. A gold star with three large raised letters in the center. BMA.

Ever since the discovery of the Mythiks, three organizations had come onto the scene; one publicly supporting the Mythiks (OMR – The Organization for Mythik Rights), the second opposing them (HFA – Humans First Alliance), and the federal government’s BMA (The Bureau of Mythik Affairs). Although it’s public face preached equality and fairness, many felt it had a much darker agenda.

The BMA had originally been formed to help the Mythiks integrate into human society, but the Mythiks had been living among us for thousands of years; weren’t they already integrated?

The two men were looking more and more impatient as I continued to make them stand on the front porch. I knew what they wanted. Ever since the revelation, the government had been actively looking for people like me, people who could see Mythiks even when they didn’t want to be seen, when they had their ‘human façade’ in place. I guess that needs some explanation if you’ve never seen a Mythik.

The reason that they had lived among us for so long undetected was that they all have the ability to trick our brains into not seeing them for what they really are, and of course, we humans often don’t like to see or deal with things that we don’t understand. In this way, the short, dark-haired man who works in the accounting department in your office might in reality be a troll. Your neighbor might be an elf or even a centaur, although outwardly they would appear human. Who knows, maybe your wife or husband was really a hobbit or even a dragon.

So, the Mythiks could conceal their true identities, but not from all of us as it turned out, which brings me to the subject of my odd abilities. Everything adapts it seems, and a few humans seemed to have the ability to see what was hidden, so we were called the Revealers, or the Aperios in some circles. The problem was that everyone wanted us for different reasons. The BMA claimed they needed Revealers to help identify Mythiks so they could be "helped, although many doubted that was their true intention. The HFA wanted Revealers, so they could find, hunt down, and deal with the threat to Human society." No one doubted that declaration was their true intention. Even the OMR (some people just said omar) wanted the Aperios so they could turn them to their side, or at least convince them not to point out Mythiks to the HFA and the BMA.

I’ve never been sure exactly how this all worked for them. I don’t know if they can transform into a human form, or if we just saw them that way. People tend to ignore things that they don’t want to deal with, so perhaps our brains just chose not to see them. That still ’didn’t answer the question concerning how an eight-foot troll could fit into the driver’s seat of a taxi in New York City. I’ve never had the chance, or maybe the inclination to ask any of them yet. The funny thing was, they had the ability to shield themselves from other Mythiks, but it wasn’t’ automatic. They actually had to think about it, but it didn’t’ work on Revealers. So, being an Aperios was nearly as dangerous as being a Mythik in those days and although I could see them, I found myself steering clear of them whenever possible.

Like I said before, I’d become very good at ignoring what I saw, purposely forcing myself to only see the human face of the Mythiks. I had no desire to work for the BMA and certainly not the HFA. Those guys were a bunch of nutcases, worse than the KKK, the Neo-Nazis, and the most vehement white supremacists combined.

A lot of people whispered that the BMA was like a jealous boyfriend; if they couldn’t’ have you, no one could. There were rumors on the Internet that many people who had been known to be Aperios had disappeared—mysteriously. I didn’t need that.

Oh yeah, one other thing. The Mythiks were able to see Revealers for what they truly were as well. I guess payback’s a bitch. We had some sort of aura or something that surrounds us that they could sense, or see, or maybe both. Luckily, humans couldn’t’ see this giveaway to our identities, but it did offer an advantage to the OMR in locating us which was the reason that the BMA and others were so aggressive in seeking out and recruiting us.

And so, they stood there, the two men in their tight-fitting black suits impatiently waiting for me to let them in. Reluctantly, I opened the screen door and allowed them to pass by me into the house. As I closed the door, I noticed how they scanned the room as if they were entering the abode of some known terrorist or other dangerous criminal. Neither man removed his sunglasses as I walked them into the living room where they stood next to each other with their hands clasped in front of them. So, what can I do for you? I asked.

Do you mind if we sit?

I knew that I rolled my eyes a little, but I gestured toward the couch and they both stepped back and sat down together. I took a seat on the arm of the big easy chair, trying to communicate to them how much I didn’t want them in my house.

I don’t know how much you know about the agency that we work for, Mr. Morris, the taller of the two said.

I think I know enough, I replied flatly.

The shorter of the two men shifted his position on the couch, as if he took offense to my comment.

You cannot believe everything you hear, Mr. Morris, but that aside, it has come to our attention that you may have some special skills that might help us and in turn the nation as a whole.

I slowly ran my hand across my chin.

Is that so? What skills might those be?

Mr. Morris, is it really necessary for us to play these games? he asked.

I’m sure I would have seen his eyes narrow if he hadn’t been wearing his sunglasses.

I suppose not, I said.

We know you’re an Aperios.

I sat there for a few seconds, my expression unchanged and then I stood slowly.

I think you can both leave, I said.

At that moment the front door opened, and Chloe walked in. She could see me standing by the arm of the chair, but from her position she couldn’t see the two BMA agents. She was wearing a lovely yellow sundress and had her hair pulled up in a ponytail. She flashed me that smile of hers that always lit me up. Chloe was one of those women who could wear anything and look fantastic. I looked at her and smiled crookedly before turning back to the two black suited men. They were now standing side-by-side as she stepped into the living room and moved next to me.

I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you had guests, she said as she kissed my cheek softly.

It’s okay…they were just leaving, I said as I looked pointedly at the tall one.

He smiled, or at least he tried to smile. On his face it looked like something quite out of place, as if he had never done it before, or if he did, he had to try and remember how to do it. There was also something slightly disconcerting about how he looked at Chloe.

Yes. I guess we’re done here, for now, he said before nodding at Chloe. Ma’am,

He passed by the chair and moved toward the front door, the shorter agent following directly after him. I walked them to the door, silently signaling Chloe that she should stay in the living room. As soon as they were out on the porch again, the taller man turned and looked at me before pulling a small white business card out of his pocket and holding it out to me.

If you change your mind, give us a call or…if your circumstances change, he said with a glance toward the living room.

I still remember those words; I still remember the feeling of dread that washed over me as the two of them walked away. If I’d had any idea about what was to come, I would have done anything to change it, but it’s too late for that.

Chapter Three

January 29

"Today in Houston, a young teenage boy who was revealed to be a Mythik was attacked at his school by a group of youths. He is recovering from his injuries in an undisclosed hospital. School officials declined to comment on the matter until a full investigation is completed."


It had been a few weeks since the BMA agents had come to our house and I’d nearly forgotten about them, but I’d noticed that since their visit two things were different.

First, I was seeing Mythiks more and more often now. My self-imposed "blindness" seemed to have lifted and I could no longer ignore what I was able to do.

Secondly, I didn’t know if it was paranoia or my imagination, although when I look back on it now, I know it was neither; it was fact. I thought I was seeing the same people, over and over again, and they seemed to be watching me. I would see them outside my office; just a guy in a blue windbreaker reading a newspaper. Then I saw him again in front of the Subway when I got my lunch, and later, when I got home, I spotted him jogging down the street in front of my house.

I kept this information to myself. I didn’t want to upset Chloe or make more out of it than there was, but she could read me like a book.

Zach, something’s up, isn’t it? she asked as we sat together on the couch watching CNN.

She was laying on her side, with her head in my lap. I looked down at her, gently stroking her silky brown hair, and I sighed. I was always terrible at hiding anything from her.

Yeah. I swear that I’m being watched, I said.

Chloe turned and lay on her back, so she could look up at me and she smiled, although I could see the concern in her hazel eyes. It has to do with those men who came here to see you, isn’t it?

Yeah. I brushed a strand of loose hair off her forehead and smiled, but I knew I couldn’t erase the worry lines on my own face.

What did they want, really? I know what you told me, but somehow I don’t think that was the whole truth, she said.

What I told you was the truth, I replied with a small chuckle. They want me to help them with something, something only I can do.

It has to do with your abilities, doesn’t it, with the Mythiks?

I stared at her for a few moments. I’d never told her about my ‘gift’, about what I saw on a daily basis, but as I said before, I could never hide anything from her.

How do you know about that? I asked, trying to hide my surprise.

Come on, she said sitting up. You told me when we first met about your imaginary friend John, and how your English Professor in college was a horse’s ass. I can see how you look at people sometimes, even doing a double take when it’s not really called for.

She grinned at me.

Besides, what else would they want you for? I love you, but you’re an advertising exec.

I laughed, leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips, lingering there for a moment before breaking the embrace.

I always thought I was so smooth, I said.

You’ve never been smooth, Zach, she replied. Have you always been able to see them?

Yeah, since I was about six.

That long? It must have been hard when you were younger.

I looked down at her and nodded slowly.

For a while, I thought I was crazy.

Oh, honey, she said, reaching up and gently stroking my face with her hand.

I sighed quietly.

When I was fifteen, my parents sat me down and told me that what I was seeing was real, that I wasn’t crazy.

They could have told you sooner, she said.

Maybe, but I don’t think I was ready to hear it until then.

Wait a second…how did they know you weren’t crazy? That was a long time ago, long before anyone knew what a Mythik was.

Mom could see them too.

Whoa, she said, sitting up and looking at me. Seriously?

Yeah. She said it started not long after she had me.

Chloe shook her head and smiled at me. At least you weren’t alone with all this.

Yeah. It helped a lot.

I bet. So, what did those guys want from you?

They want me to join the Bureau, the BMA. I said.

She looked at me for a second, studying my face. Would that be so bad? Helping them out?

I think my mouth fell open and nearly hit the floor when she said that. I could hardly believe that those words had just come out of her mouth. Chloe had always been an open-minded and fair individual, one of those people who wished that everyone could just leave everyone else alone and let them live their lives and not try to impose their will on them just because they have a different lifestyle or ideals.

What? I asked.

What? Would it really be that bad pointing out Mythiks for them? she asked again with complete seriousness.

I shook my head and blinked, as if that might bring me back to reality.

Yeah, that would be bad. You know what they say about the BMA, about what they’re really doing, I said as I shifted on the couch, moving away from her a little, as if she was a stranger. "I would never do that for them," I said firmly.

Chloe looked at me and began to smile. Good. That’s what I wanted to hear, because I would kick your ass if you ever joined up with them, she said, lifting her hand and stroking my cheek gently.

I shook my head again and chuckled as I grabbed her arm and pulled her toward me.

You had me going. That’s not funny.

I thought it was, she said as she pushed off the couch cushion and jumped on top of me, kissing my face.

I wrapped my arms around her and laughed. We wrestled for a few moments, my hands feeling the soft curve of her back and the gentle swell of her buttocks as she lay on top of me.

That was one of the last really good memories I have of her.

Chapter Four

March 21

"London: Parliament approved a new Mythik Rights Bill, granting full human rights to all Mythiks living within the United Kingdom. Opponents vow to fight to repeal the bill."


For the next few months, everything seemed to go back to normal, but I still had that nagging feeling I was being watched. I still saw the same ‘stalkers’ day after day, and I know it sounds crazy because if you have a routine, you do tend to see the same people every day, but this was different. I would see the man with the newspaper, but he never read it, I would see the woman with the cup of coffee, but she never drank it.

I never considered myself a suspicious person, but I was becoming more and more wary of everyone and everything around me. The conversations I would have with people I’d known for years were no longer as light and friendly as they once had been; they were all now tainted with my on-going and ever-growing paranoia. I was finding it more and more difficult to ignore the Mythiks that I was seeing during my daily life.

One in particular was Shelly, my assistant. She was a good person, a good friend, and an elf, as far as I could tell. She had the slender build, the pointed ears and eyes that are both sad and enchanting at the same time. Her human ‘image’ was much more pedestrian; rather short and a little heavy set, but still a very pretty woman. In the afternoon, she poked her head around the corner of my office, while leaning against the doorframe, a concerned look on her face.

Hi, Mr. Morris. Do you have a minute? she asked.

I looked up from the report I was perusing. I was actually happy for the distraction since I’d been reading the pages for nearly an hour, but my mind was so busy with other things that none of the information was sinking in.

What did I tell you about the name? I said, pushing the papers aside.

Sorry. Can we talk for a second, Zach? she said, sounding a little uncomfortable.

She walked inside and shut the door, something that she had never done before. Immediately, I grew tense, waiting to hear what she had to say. She took a seat in the chair on the other side of my desk and looked at me for a moment without saying anything.

Did you need something? I finally asked.

She sighed. You can see what I am, can’t you?

I leaned back in my chair, as if the wind had been knocked out of me and then I smiled softly at her. Since Mythiks could see Revealers, there was little point in denying it.

Yes. I can Shelly, I answered.

She nodded. I thought so. I mean, I can see that aura that they say surrounds humans that can see us, but yours is not real bright.

Really? I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, I said, chuckling, trying to lighten the mood, but it didn’t seem to help.

Can I ask you something else?

Of course, anything, I said, my pulse quickening.

"How long have you been able to see us?"

Mythiks rarely used the term on themselves. I’m sure it feels a lot like Negro or Chink or Redskin. Shelly looked more nervous than I’d ever seen her before.

Since I was six, I replied.

She looked at me stunned. Her eyes blinked a few times before she responded.

That long? She swallowed hard. You never said anything.

I tilted my head to the right as I looked at her. Said anything about what?

"About what I am," she replied, her hands folded neatly in her lap.

You’re Shelly. Why would I say anything? I asked, a small smile on my face. She smiled back at me for the first time since she’d come into my office.

Thank you, Zach, she said quietly.

You’re welcome.

She sat for a few moments without moving, as though either formulating another question, or debating as to whether or not she should ask it.

Did you want to ask something else?

Um…it’s just with everything going on lately, with the protests, what happened out in California, I’m starting to get a little worried about… she said as her words trailed off.

California.

The week before, a Revealer who was apparently working for the HFA walked into a shopping mall in San Diego and started pointing out Mythiks to his companions who shot them dead, including a six-year-old girl. There was far too little outrage over the incident; in fact, the local congressman seemed to blame the Mythiks themselves for what happened, saying on Fox News that "they should stay out of the public eye as much as possible to avoid these unpleasant events." Someone should have punched him in the face.

I got up and came around the desk, taking a seat in the chair beside her. I reached out and took her hand.

If you’re worried about me, Shelly, you don’t need to be, I said quietly.

"Thank you,

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